A talk with Rue Kothari

What are the potentialities of UAE market in the field of interior design?

Things have changed markedly in the UAE in terms of what the buyer is demanding. The market has diversified and there is a greater proliferation of mid-market projects including design-led 3 and 4-star hotels. As the city develops, there are more and more opportunities for versatile interior designers to apply their skills.

This is the 5th edition of Downtown Design: how has the Fair changed from the beginning to today?

Downtown Design has grown by 350% since the first edition, and this year alone we have doubled in size. For us though, it has been extremely important to grow sustainably, ensuring that both the quality of the brands and the buyers are maintained.
his year we will have 70 new brands, the majority of which are in the lighting, furniture and textile sectors, something that our market research told us our buyers were looking for. In addition, I’m very proud to announce that we will launch 12 regional designers this year, all of whom create high quality pieces with great commercial potential. This demonstrates the growth and growing maturity of our own homegrown industry. I can only hope this inspires the first generation of ‘Made in the UAE’ brands.

About the 12 emerging brands: what kind of opportunities can the Fair offer to those who are looking to grow in the field?

We want to showcase regional talent, but also give confidence to buyers that these designers are able to satisfy commercial requests. Of course, we also love to show diversity, so this year we have regional designers presenting furniture, lighting, tableware, rugs and ceramic tiles. It’s a fantastic mix.

The Italian Pavilion hosts more and more brands too..

The Italian Pavilion will host 17 brands this year, some are returning, some will exhibit for the first time. It will be the third year that we host ICE at the fair, and we’re very happy that we’re able to continue supporting ITA and the exhibiting brands to reach their target audience here in the Middle East.
Our fair uniquely supports brands not only by bringing key decision makers from around the region, but providing multiple opportunities to network, share expertise and build relationships year on year. As a high quality event, it’s the perfect positioning for Italian brands with a strong design heritage.

What kind of collateral activities do you organize?

We are very socially active as an event throughout the year, which culminates in the week of Downtown Design. Aside from our VIP preview event which is heavily attended, we will have a after party at the new Renaissance Hotel Downtown Dubai.
The following day we present The Italian Way Product Design Award, launched in association with us, to help discover the next generation of product designers in the UAE. This celebrates the culture of hospitality across East and West.
Of course, we have a full programme of talks throughout the week, activations on all the stands, guided trend tours and much more. It will be our biggest and best show to date.